Goldfrapp Black Cherry Review

Released 2003.  

BBC Review

It's still not yer average party album, but it is a brave and necessary step away from...

Chris Jones 2003

Poor Goldfrapp: Cursed forever as another of those bands who have become known as 'the ones who were used on that advert'. Many bought Felt Mountain, their first album nearly three years ago, as some kind of odious, sub-Portishead chillout addition to their coffee table lives. Thankfully Black Cherry is going to be a bit of a shock to all those people. To everyone who dug a little deeper to sample the decadent strangeness in their lush alpine soundscapes; you're in for an even more intense ride...

As anyone who's seen Alison Goldfrapp on stage knows, the music's half of the fun. Never has a woman worn hats with such aplomb or hit a cowbell so sternly. In other words she is the visual metaphor, embodying the sexual nature of her and Will Gregory's music; all in an air hostess outfit. This time around however Black Cherry is less a metaphor than a full-on, 18 certificate invitation to the lusty side of life.

It's not a complete farewell to the John Barry-esque strings and 30s Berlin cabaret ambience. There are still moments of eastern European sang froid on ''Deep Honey'', "Forever" and the title track. Yet the overall feeling is of disco electronica melded with a 70s glam stomp. Keyboards are bubbly and brutal (''Twist'', ''Crystalline Green'', ''Train, Tiptoe'') and Alison's extraordinary voice, aided by all manner of electric trickery on the last album (''Lovely Head''), is here allowed to shine forth unaided. She soars from a coy whisper to an orgasmic scream most effectively on ''Twist''. This is definitely an adults only affair.

If there's a fault to be found it's that the album reminds one of Beck's Midnite Vultures a little too much, with its wilful retro-synth feel and explicit nature. Remember that Vultures was purported to be Beck's 'sex' album and Black Cherry fits the same bill. It's almost too much so in places, as Alison pouts over lyrics such as 'How can it be I taste you now?' (''Black Cherry'') or 'I'm in love with your strict machine' ("Strict Machine") and, on ''Twist'' encourages you to...well, you get the picture.

Luckily the kitsch elements are held in check by a production job that adds the best throbbing teutonic analogue fun you can imagine, and never becomes as heavy as its predecessors glacial moments. It's still not yer average party album, but it is a brave and necessary step away from the Zero 7 crowd and into a spotlight that's all their own. Good dirty fun...

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